||Cory L. Major
Director, GEAR UP Project
Phillips Community College, Arkansas
MS Leadership and Policy Studies
Why did you choose your course of study (Leadership or Student Personnel Services)?
Mickele (Peoples) Carpenter, who recruited me to the University of Memphis, attained
this degree. I was able to see firsthand what the degree did for her. She went from
an admissions recruiter to a recruiting coordinator for a grant project within the
Psychology Department. Now she has over a decade of success within corporate America.
It was through Mickele that I learned about the degree program and from her successes;
I knew the value of the degree.
How did this degree prepare you or improve your preparation for your current role?
One of the strengths of the Leadership program was the ability to connect with my
peers within the intimate classroom settings. I learned a great deal from professionals
from a variety of work settings – corporate, community college, university, etc. We
each traveled different paths towards our degrees and the richness of experiences
enhanced the classroom learning. Of course, the faculty served as great mentors and
role models, providing insights into the inner workings of higher and adult education.
The degree provided me more than just theory-based knowledge, it gave me an opportunity
to connect with other professionals and aspirants to gain practical knowledge and
guidance that has served me even to this day.
What impact has your degree had on your life or career?
I work daily with college students who are oftentimes the first in their families
to go to college. This is a foreign world for them. But, through my studies, I have
developed a love for higher education. I believe it opens the doors to opportunity.
Unfortunately, just getting inside the doors of higher education doesn’t necessarily
lead to the desired opportunity. I was like many of the students I currently work
with – unfocused, unsure of my future… in a word, lost. But, the Leadership program
looked beyond my less than impressive undergraduate GPA. They gave me an opportunity
to prove that I was capable of advanced studies. And, the staff supported me as I
worked to attain the first graduate degree in my family. Now, my older sister is completing
a Masters degree in counseling; my younger brother and sister are both taking steps
to enroll in masters programs within the next year. Like my students, I have had the
opportunity to blaze a new trail within my family and at the same time I’m able to
serve as a role model to my participants. I’m able to push them towards goals that
some have said are beyond their reach. The Leadership program, as a result, has impacted
not just my life; but the lives of my family and the countless students I work with